Suncorp case study transcript

James Corner, Financial Controller Suncorp Group

Financial services is actually heavily regulated across multiple regulators. We have armies of people to deal with our reporting requirements. And obviously the key regulators are namely APRA, and that covers: life insurance; general insurance; banking; superannuation.

We have ASIC of course with our financial reporting standards. The ATO is a big reporter for: BAS returns; stamp duty returns; your Pay As You Go returns.

We also have ABS and RBA reporting, APRA acting as a conduit for those bodies. And then outside of that you have credit rating agencies, and other industry bodies of the like.

Back in 2011 we were looking to build on our existing reporting capability, so we went to the market place and we checked out what software vendors were out there and what the regulators were doing.

Suncorp always seeks out world's best practice and if you look overseas at, I guess, the continuing emergence of international governments and international regulators really pushing for the XBRL standard to be used, you can see that the Australian Government is definitely heading down that path as well.

And one of our main regulators was in a consultation period where they were looking for early adopters to explore the roll out of SBR, and at that point we decided to join them on that journey and that's how we first discovered SBR.

The definitional taxonomy is where a lot of the advantages lie with SBR, and that's all about having a standard definition. So it's actually using a consistent data set, a consistent definition of standards, applying the bespoke reporting requirements on top of that definitional taxonomy and then facilitating the reporting.

With a big business like ours there's a multitude of bespoke source systems which operate on different platforms, so actually combining all of that data together into a structured data set which we can then tag, I think that's probably what took the longest piece of time.

But once that's set up then it's set up forever, ad we controlled that through a rigid change management process.

From a controller's perspective I've got a lot more transparency over the data flows, so I can see where data's coming from, I can see what business rules are attached to that data. So as data comes through the reporting architecture, you've got those controls wrapped up around it.

Now, it wasn't to say that that wasn't there historically, it was definitely there but it's just a lot more transparent these days, and any changes made by the regulators are easily embedded within our reporting architecture.

Standard Business Reporting definitely facilitates enhancement of our risk and compliance reporting, it does introduce much more rigour into the reporting process, it helps with the validation of data between reports and having that consistency of data, and I think that's an important control aspect from a financial controller's perspective that we have that in place.

There's a lot of internal business rules that big business and small business use to report on for their management reporting purposes and they don't always align with regulatory requirements. So having that transparency, seeing where the differences lie, is definitely is supported by SBR so I think there's wider benefits there.

Suncorp's very much interested in investing in our people. And I think with embedding SBR we're introducing state of the art technology, so I think all of our staff are quite happy for getting exposure to not just SBR but to the tools of trade. There's a lot less time spent on producing reports, and a lot more time allowed for analysing reports.

I think the strong benefits are definitely in that definitional taxonomy, so having your constant, standard definitions, and attaching your reporting definitions on top, that's where the benefits really lie with SBR.

I can definitely see the benefits for the longer term good of, not just industry, but the economy as a whole.

Last updated: 
2 January 2018
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